It is a development that is intended to revitalise the top end of the city of Bradford, giving a new injection of life to an area many feel have been neglected, and if all goes to plan, it will transform the existing markets in the city centre into something new and exciting that will help bring more people into the city.
The keystone of the planned £21 million shake up of Bradford city’s market offering is the exciting new look that is planned for Darley Street, and Bradford Council hope that once it is all completed by 2021, it will help attract hundreds of thousands of new shoppers.
Work is due to start early next year, with the former Marks & Spencer building transformed into a brand new food market, and the existing Kirkgate Market focussing on non-food items.
Central to the development will be a new public square, giving a space for displays, festivals, open-air markets, and events to add to the vibrancy the Council is hoping to create in the area.
The final piece in the jigsaw that needed to be completed to allow work to begin slotted into place with Bradford Council’s acquisition of the old Marks and Spencer unit on Darley Street.
A Compulsory Purchase Order for the old store was confirmed in July, a move Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said was “an important step for both the plans to reinvent the market offering in Bradford and the ambitious plans to reshape Bradford’s city centre.
“We are fully committed to delivering the extensive redevelopment of the markets and with the Compulsory Purchase Order, we’re confident we will can progress with our plans for regenerating Darley Street.”
He said the project would transform the top end of the city, bringing in an exciting new development which also helped preserve the tradition and heritage of the market and the historic buildings nearby.
“This major transformational project will provide fantastic trading opportunities for over 60 independent retailers offering a wide range of non-food items alongside, fresh and hot foods,” he said.
“The Darley Street market will revolutionise the city centre attracting hundreds of thousands of new shoppers whilst opening up views to some of Bradford’s most beautiful heritage buildings.
“The new adjoining public square will be a vibrant and attractive platform providing flexible open-air retail spaces and areas to stage promotional events and festivals.
“We will be formally inviting applications from both new and existing businesses to trade in the new market in early 2021; however, potential tenants can express and interest and get the most up to date information by visiting the Bradford markets website.”
The proposed design for the new market shows a significant glass frontage to encourage an open feel to the market and provide better links between Darley Street and Piccadilly, with a canopy over part of Darley Street to allow for more outdoor markets and trading.
The project will also see the existing Oastler Centre closed, to make way for a proposed new “urban village” of family homes.
Footfall at the Oastler and Kirkgate Markets has plummeted in recent years, with Oastler particularly suffering from the closure of Morrisons.
The Oastler Centre attracted 2.9 million customers in 2013 which fell to 1.6 million by the end of last year. Kirkgate Market had 1.6 million customers in 2013, which fell to 1.2 million at the end of 2017. Vacancy rates have also risen in that time. Oaster Centre currently has a 31 per cent vacancy rate, up from nine per cent in 2014, and Kirkgate Market’s current vacancy rate is 35 per cent, up from 19 per cent in 2014.
Because the changes will lead to an overall reduction in the number of market stalls in the city centre, existing traders will have to apply for new spaces in the market, with a panel of business figures deciding who will be allocated a stall.
A report on the project to Bradford Council earlier this year says: “It is anticipated that there will a number of existing traders that will not transfer to the new markets. Those traders that still wish to continue trading will be supported by identifying other retail options in Bradford city centre or across the district.”
The report added: “The fresh food and food related goods offer should focus on providing opportunities for a diverse international fresh and hot food offer that reflects the socio-demographic profile of the district.
“The new market will seek to attract a wider customer base and to widen its appeal to a new demographic of shopper. It will be important that the market has the opportunity to trade throughout the day and early evening.”
Councillor Ross-Shaw said the new market would put the great food offering Bradford has front and centre.
“Creating a new market at the heart of Darley Street will be brilliant for Bradford. We have a great food offer in our district and our ambition is for it to be centre stage, in the heart of the city on a street associated with markets in Bradford for over a century,” he said.
“We believe that we already have a fantastic retail and shopping offer around the bottom of the town, including the Broadway Centre. The Master Plan, by revitalising the city centre at the top of the town, will ensure that the entire city centre provides a diverse, attractive and vibrant public environment for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
The designs for the project have been welcomed by Bradford Civic Society. It’s chair, Si Cunningham, said: “I think the first artists’ impression of the new market looks pretty spectacular, and it’s exactly the sort of bold design solution that Bradford needs right now.
“Covering part of Darley Street and better linking the site to Kirkgate is an inspired move, and should create an attractive public space.
“It looks like a market that’s fit for the future. I look forward to seeing how the plans develop and engaging with the council and markets team to ensure that the space meets the highest design standards.”
Greig and Stephenson, the architecture firm brought on to lead the design of the project, has previously been involved in the redevelopment of markets in London, Leeds and Sheffield as well as markets across Europe and the Far East. The designers have already undertaken feasibility studies and have prepared initial designs for the redevelopment of both city centre markets
The Council says of the design on its website: “The building is designed to be as transparent as possible in contrast to much of Bradford’s historic building stock to differentiate the public nature of the market architecture and to emphasise the links between Piccadilly and Darley Street.
“Opening the new building up to celebrate the fine buildings in Piccadilly will encourage the regeneration of Piccadilly and further strengthen links between the Broadway Shopping Centre and the markets.
“The design of the building is conceived of as a contemporary version of a Market Hall trading on three levels.
“This design that is being developed uses the slope of Darley Street and Piccadilly to allow level access at the southern and northern end of the site and to allow customer access at two levels off ‘grade’.
“The idea is to create three separate floors each with their own special identity and environment.
“The Lower Ground Floor can be accessed at the southerly point of Darley Street and will focus on dry foods within a coffered or vaulted structure which is intended to be warm and intimate. The focused display of ‘dry’ goods and services by artificial controlled lighting will promote this area of the market into its own unique space.
“The Upper Ground Floor accessed off the northerly point of Darley Street will house the main fresh food stalls.
“The First Floor will be home to a world food court where customers will be able to eat great food located around communal seating areas whilst enjoying the market atmosphere
“The market stalls will be housed under the roof canopy that will be filled with natural light, colour and people.”